The Travails of Transitioning When Others Don’t, Won’t Accept It 

lgbtq+ peopleDeja Nicole Greenlaw at a former Pride celebration circa 2012.
Photo: TRT Archives

An inside look at the effects of transitioning, on you, and on others

By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist—

If you talk with a transgender person who has transitioned to their true gender, you may very well hear that there are some folks in their life who will no longer have anything to do with them.

It may be hard on both parties, the person who transitioned and the folks who have rejected the transition, so a division is formed which separates the parties. Sometimes it takes weeks, months, or even years for the two parties to successfully deal with the issue of the transition. Sometimes the issue is never successfully dealt with and the division remains. It’s sad, but what can one do?

On the one hand, the person who transitioned has reached a point in their life where they are finally at peace with themselves after years of dealing with confusion, shame, guilt, and fear. The transitioned person has worked their way through so many obstacles and they are finally ready to live their life as their true self.

On the other hand, the person who rejects the transition may not see and understand the amount of work that the transitioned person has been through, they may not agree with the transition, they may be embarrassed with the transition, or they simply do not want anything to do with the person after they transitioned. There may also be other reasons that I haven’t mentioned, but the bottom line is that they do not want the transitioned person in their life.

It must be hard on these folks who do not accept the transition for whatever reason. I can’t really speak for them, but I can see that they have difficulties in accepting the transitioned person. I can, however, speak a bit on the pain that the transitioned person feels, as I have dealt and am still dealing with the pain of non-acceptance.

Frankly, it hurts a lot to not be accepted. It hurts a lot to have your loved ones cut out of your life. It especially hurts when the loved ones are family members or close friends. In my case, I initially lost most of my family and friends when I transitioned. There were a few loved ones who maybe didn’t quite fully understand my transition, but they accepted it. I’m guessing that they probably know unconditional love and I, in turn, love that they are able to accept my transition and can share in the joy of my newly-found peace from within.

The majority of my family and friends, however, did not initially accept me and that sent me into a depressed state. To have loved ones in your life and to be included on all of their milestones and celebrations is wonderful. To suddenly have that door shut on you is awful. No more family holidays together, no more birthdays together, no more getting invited to celebrations of accomplishments such as graduations and honors. No more anything. Yes, you can be shut out.

It’s been almost 10 years since I transitioned and I have gotten a few family members back into my life. I’ve gotten quite a few friends back, too, so I understand that sometimes these things can take time. Still, there are family members and some friends who, to this day, will not even speak to me because I transitioned. How long will this take? Maybe it will never take?

What can you do? I posed that question once to a therapist. The therapist told me that the only thing I can do is to keep the doors open and wait and hope. I had already been doing that and I will continue to do so. Maybe someday, somehow, somebody or something will change their minds and bring them back to me. I hope so. I guess that until then, I will just have to wait.

I also hope that, in the future, there won’t be any of us who will still have to wait.

*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is a trans woman who has three grown children and is retired from 3M. She can be contacted at  


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